Southeastern to continue recycling of Christmas trees to build up wetlands

Monday, December 14, 2015
by: Rene Abadie

     HAMMOND – Southeastern Louisiana University will again collect used Christmas trees in partnership with area businesses and government agencies as part of its annual Christmas tree collection effort designed to enhance wetland restoration efforts in the Pass Manchac area.
    Southeastern scientists at the university’s Turtle Cove Environmental Research Station, located on Pass Manchac between lakes Pontchartrain and Maurepas, use the discarded trees to help build up marshland in areas that have been impacted by erosion and other factors, said Turtle Cove Manager Rob Moreau.
    Partnering in the project for the second year is the Southeastern Sustainability Center on North Oak Street, which will serve as a drop-off point for area residents to leave their used Christmas trees. Other partners include the city of Hammond and Middendorfs Restaurant in Manchac, as drop-off sites. In addition, Lowes in Hammond again will donate unsold trees.
    Trees can be dropped off beginning Dec. 26 through Mardi Gras from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Hammond Maintenance facility, 18104 Hwy. 190, next to Piggly Wiggly Super Market. The Southeastern Sustainability Center, 2101 North Oak Street, will collect trees beginning Jan. 5 through the end of the month from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 to 10 a.m. on Friday. Moreau said a Turtle Cove trailer drop off site will also be maintained at Middendorfs Restaurant.
    He said the City of Hammond will provide transport of collected trees to the Turtle Cove Galva Canal parking lot area in Manchac where they will be stored until they are deployed in the marshes.
    No flocked trees will be accepted, and all trees should be stripped of any ornaments, lights, tinsel and stands.
    Rob Moreau said the trees will be used to continue a pilot project started last year to determine whether the recycled trees can help fill in the logging ditches, formed when the area’s cypress forests were cut down over a hundred-plus year span.
    “The ditches allow salt water intrusion and increase the erosion process,” Moreau said. “Under the supervision of biology researcher Dr. Gary Shaffer, we will place trees in some selected ditches to determine if they can accumulate enough sediment that might assist in filling them in. We’ll monitor and evaluate this process over the next several years to determine its feasibility. If successful, this technique could be used in other similarly stressed ecosystems in coastal Louisiana.”
    This marks the 21st straight year Southeastern has conducted its recycled tree program, which in the past was supported with funds from the state’s Natural Resources Program. The grant support was discontinued several years ago, and Moreau has relied on volunteers and students to deploy the trees in the Manchac wetlands. More than 35,000 trees have been deployed through the Southeastern program.
    Moreau said the benefits of the tree recycling program include protection against shoreline erosion, building of land to offset subsidence and sea-level rise, creation of new habitats for plants and animals and reducing waste going to landfills.
    “The program is also a great way to conduct community service and environmental education from a hands-on standpoint for people of all ages,” he said.
    Additional information can be obtained by contacting Moreau at or by visiting the website at and looking under the “Events” link.
    Donations to help support the activity can be sent by check payable to “Friends of Turtle Cove” and mailed to Southeastern Box 10585, Hammond, LA 70402 or can be made by credit card by visiting the Turtle Cove web site and under the “Friends and Donors” link.

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